How to Decorate a Studio Apartment

How to Live Beautifully in One Room

white daybed with colorful accent pillows
Daybed with pillows Karyn R. Millet / Getty Images

Studio apartments can be challenging to decorate, but when you’re living in one room you don’t need to sacrifice style. Before decorating any small space, whether it’s a single room or a studio, familiarize yourself with some of the rules for decorating small spaces. They’re a great starting point for making the most of a small space.

Room Dividers

Classic room dividers are terrific decorative elements that separate living and sleeping areas. There are tons of different styles, from classic folding screens to beautiful fabric-covered pieces. The sky’s the limit, so if you can’t find something that suits your style consider having one custom made. Most upholsterers can have one made quickly and fairly inexpensively. Much like curtains they take up a lot of visual space so have fun and find a fabric you really love.


Bookshelves are another type of room divider, but the bonus is that they offer storage. There are pros and cons to open versus closed bookshelves; the decision depends on a few factors.

Are you likely to make your bed each day? If so, open shelving may be a good choice. It allows you to access items from both sides and also help make your space look open and airy. Open shelving is also a nice way to make the most of a small space.

Do you want or need to block off your sleeping space from the rest of your apartment? Open bookshelves do little to create a true divider between, for example, a messy bed and an inviting living space. They do, however, make it easier to cut up a larger space without sacrificing storage. If you opt for closed shelving and the back isn’t finished, try painting or wallpapering it.

Half Wall

A half wall is a short divider projecting from a wall at more or less table height. It helps create the illusion that your apartment contains more than one room—without actually cutting it into closet-sized rooms. Because they are not load-bearing, they can be any size and made of any material.

There are many ways to create a half wall with which you can divide living, dining, and sleeping areas. One of the easiest is with a short bookshelf. They can help define living areas and you can place items on top, making them very practical. If you place the head of the bed against the back of a short bookshelf you’ve also got an instant headboard. You can even upholster it! A solid headboard (sans shelf) can also work. Just make sure it’s finished on both sides and is solid all the way to the floor.

Day Bed

Day beds are beds built to become sofas during the day. They can be a wonderful way to expand studio and bachelor apartments because more often than not they can double as extra seating.

If your daybed has a frame that wraps around the back you can place it against the wall and load it with pillows to create an inviting and comfortable seating area. If there is no back/side frame (just a headboard and footboard), you can place it right in the middle of the room! In many cases, your guests won’t even know it’s also your bed.

Hanging Fabric

Hanging fabric around the sleeping area is great for separating the living and sleeping areas. Consider hanging it on a track-mounted over the bed. That way you can draw the curtains open and closed whenever you like. Another option is to hang four pieces of fabric from ceiling to floor at the four corners of the bed. It won’t provide privacy but it’s a very elegant way to define the space.

Murphy Beds

Murphy beds are a unique option for people living in small spaces. They fold up into the wall, disappearing from view entirely when not in use. More often than not they are contemporary in style, however, more traditional-looking versions are starting to appear on the market. Murphy beds can be great, but much like sofa beds, they require a certain amount of maneuvering before you can climb into bed at night. You'll have to unfold the bed as well as move any other pieces out of the way.